The city is investigating whether a Brooklyn principal recruited students to communist organizations. She says she's being targeted for fighting racism. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ has the story.
The city's education department is investigating a Brooklyn principal — with an inquiry that seems straight from the 1950s.
"Through my lawyers, they have told me that they are looking into allegations of communist organizing at my school, and that I'm responsible for that," Jill Bloomberg, the principal of Park Slope Collegiate, told me.
Bloomberg's supporters protested outside the education department, accusing Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña of McCarthy-era tactics.
Bloomberg says she has not been recruiting students to communism, instead teaching them to speak out against racism.
"And because of that, we are under investigation," the principal said at the rally.
The education department does not prohibit staff from being communists, but it does ban them from organizing students for any political party.
Bloomberg says she does not belong to any communist organization and does no political organizing.
But she is a vocal critic of many city education policies, particularly how some schools are largely white, and others are black and hispanic.
"How do you spell racist? DOE!" demonstraters chanted at the rally.
Since 2004, Bloomberg has been the principal of Park Slope Collegiate, a middle and high school in the John Jay building.
Three-quarters of her students are black and Hispanic. In March, education department investigators began interviewing some of them.
"There's these three people in suits and you don't know them, you've never seen them before and they're asking you all these questions about your parents, about other things, and you feel like you have to give them information, they sort of are pressuring you to do it," said Alexandra Stevens, an eighth grader at the school.
In April, Bloomberg sued, saying the investigation was retaliatory and trampled her free speech rights. A judge refused to stop it.
"The message, then, is if you speak out, then you will be under investigation," Bloomberg said. "Or, if you happen to be a communist, you will be under investigation."
The education department says only that the investigation is not related to Bloomberg's advocacy.
Not all of the teachers attended the rally. Some are not supportive of the principal and her outspoken advocacy, and think the investigation should continue.
But those protesting said they'll keep supporting her and will continue speaking out against a school system they believe is racist and retaliatory.